We sat around the table for brunch, pulling apart steaming pieces of gooey cinnamon buns. Land of Nod is a holiday tradition and sometimes a birthday tradition in our family and this year we even did it on Valentine’s Day. As we shared our three highlights from 2016, all five of us said, Mexico. Spending time together as a family with good friends off the beaten track, simple but delicious food, beauty, the waves, sunshine, adventure, card games and rest. Did I mention homemade guacamole every day? That was Mexico.
My word for 2016 was “Write.” As you may know from My #OneWord365 for 2017 post, I wanted to beat myself up for not being able to show the book … yet. Because isn’t that how we WRITE?
But today I remember these words by Emile Pereire who says, “It is not enough to outline gigantic programs on paper. I must write my ideas on the earth.”
It dawned on me today that perhaps that was the kind of writing I did with my life this year. In 2016, I wrote my ideas on the earth. I set my feet on the dusty roads of Robben Island. I kneeled in a prison and I wept there, too. The same for Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Hebron. And right here, in my own city too.
This past year took me to into the heart of Apartheid, but also into the heart of Hope.
The opposite of Apartheid is relationship. It is a weaving together of our hearts and our stories. It is seeing the humanity in each and every person. Perhaps I had to write that first, with my body. Perhaps these words cannot live on a page until they have been lived out.
I have been marked by the the people and the places of 2016. South Africa, Mexico, Israel and Palestine, but also the story of Canada. I am learning that division wants to live everywhere. It is written into our stories and cultures, our political parties and even our families. But Love can live here too and so can restoration and Hope.
I feel so honoured to have journeyed with Lisa Jernigan, her dream to Amplify the voices of women peacemakers and the good people of The Global Immersion Project. (Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart are particularly good men.)
Two years ago I got to meet Sami Awad at the Simply Jesus Gathering in Denver, Colorado. In January, we walked together on the sandy roads of Robben Island. He could tell us about life in Bethlehem and even peacemaking, but it wasn’t until I set foot in the Holy Land Trust and heard from Sami on his own soil and it wasn’t until we passed through a checkpoint in November this year, that I could grasp the weight of his words.
Robben Island in January was where I came home to myself in even deeper ways. I didn’t think God could call me to even more radical restoration, but then, there it was …
Restoration is meant to be full and beautiful and there is not one thread that does not matter to our God.
This picture (below) shows five of us, all Afrikaans speakers. From them, I learned how Afrikaans is not just a so-called white language. I didn’t even know how much I needed to know that. How much I needed to re-learn and re-examine the history of Afrikaans. I still do, because this is a long walk to Freedom. But this moment? Deep joy and gratitude.
I got to see my friend Rene’s (pictured on the far right) dream become a reality here on Robben Island.
And I got to celebrate my friend Nicole’s daughter’s first birthday in Cape Town.
In Canada, this year was deeply marked by Gather:Women. We gathered in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. What a privilege to watch Cathie Ostapchuk run with a vision for gathering Canadian women, while Helen Burns cheered her one every step of the way. These women walk beautifully—their courage and big big hearts astound me—and I learn so much from them.
Some of my favourite moments of 2016 happened in the in-between spaces. Driving in the mountains of Colorado with Sarah Bessey, eating queso with Sarah in Grand Rapids (yes, I know), getting stuck in Sunday afternoon traffic with Larycia Hawkins and Conrad Gempf.
Pinch me. For all of this .
And around the fire with friends and family in Point Roberts, WA.
I am grateful for dinner with my agent Rachelle, a woman of wisdom … and much patience.
I am grateful for Kelley and Jessica who love me and compelled me to write the book I need to write first. I am grateful for sharing a hotel room with these brilliant writer friends at the Festival of Faith and Writing and eating a simple picnic on the grass. These are the moments I remember.I was so grateful to return to Winnipeg in 2016 too and host a conversation on race and racism with some astounding souls.
I will never forget worshipping with Jenni McGrew at the Sonrise Women’s conference and every time I sing, You’re a Good Good Father, I remember the women of that weekend.
On SheLoves this year, we hit 2,000 published posts. We spent time discerning the next steps. We said goodbye to dear friends and hello to others. The web keeps widening, but I also sense a deepening. A necessary forging. We are not meant to walk alone. There is much work to be done in our world.
Another favourite moment, was sitting around the table at some big box restaurant in Langley. We had just done a photoshoot for our Rise Up, Sister Gathering in February and a few who could, gathered for lunch. Outside it was cold and rainy, but inside, we were warm. We lingered. We talked. We laughed. Nobody wanted to get up from the table. We had found a sacred circle around a table.
THIS. IS. IT. I told the women. This is exactly what we hope to create space for at Rise Up, Sister. It was a taste of Amahoro Africa. It was the thickening, and deepening and the widening of friendship. And I know and hope and long for more of that to come.
Straight out of Israel and Palestine, we hosted our Paused + Present evening.
We ate curry and listened to the most authentic women’s voices. It felt like SheLoves. It felt like “us.” It was beautiful. (If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out the stunning images taken by Madison from that evening on our Facebook page here.)
Behind the scenes, it was hard and it required ALL of us to give our best. But that’s what made it sweeter. If it had been easy, we wouldn’t have needed to pull together.
Every woman added her strengths, her voice, her gifts, her heart to the movement. I am so grateful.
I enter into this new year with a ridiculously grateful heart. In spite of my mistakes, in spite of my shortcomings, I get to live this full and beautiful life. A Venti life, as my friend Brenda so beautifully says. I get to walk with some extraordinary women. Together, I believe we are writing a different story on the earth.
And after it is all done, I get to come home. I am so grateful for how Scott loves and supports my adventurous spirit. He holds our family together when I am away. He doesn’t miss a beat. I learn from his big heart. I learn from how he leads. I am grateful for how he loves me and holds my hand at the end of a full day. When we are too tired for anything, but to know and rest in the assurance of our bond, our commitment and our Love.
I am grateful for my children who keep my hands in soapy water, my heart ridiculously humble and my hands on the steering wheel. I am grateful for their hugs and squeezes and how every one of them still won’t go to bed until I’ve prayed for them.
I am grateful for our SheLoves Events team. We do not and cannot walk alone. Together, we are beautiful and I am so humbled by their hearts and faithfulness.
I am grateful for the women of our LifeGroup (below), women who keep showing up and who do whatever it takes. (Missing Claire, Amy and Alaina here.)
I am grateful for parents who call and love me and have released me to the world.
I am grateful for my family—near and far—who make the holidays so special and crack me up on WhatsApp.
I am grateful for our neighbours.
I am grateful for our school community. I am grateful for teachers who invest in my kids now and for teachers who once invested and believed in me.
I am grateful for soccer communities and hockey communities and a blanket that travels with me and keeps me warm at those hockey arenas.
I am grateful for friends who believe in me and call out the song in my heart.
I am grateful for every friend who beats her drum and calls us to the dance.
I am grateful for nights around dinner tables where we laugh until the tears roll down our cheeks.
I am grateful for friends who are stepping out into their destiny. (Hello, new book coming in 2017 for Kelley!)
I am grateful for new friendships and prayers from around the world.
I am grateful for my tears and big emotions and a heart that feels full and alive.
I am grateful for every invitation and opportunity.
I am grateful for every comment, every like, every heart, every encouragement, every woman who shows up and keeps showing up online.
I am grateful for every word that flows from my heart out into the universe, because I know now my silence does not serve the world.
I am grateful for a furry friend who calls me into the woods and keeps me company when I write and dream and weave.
I am grateful for the Spirit who breathes newness into my life and knows exactly what my heart needs.
I am grateful for a God who compels me to write my life and my ideas on the earth.
When the world gets cold, may our kindness, our Love, our truth, our boldness, our tenacity and our faithfulness, create the world we long for in 2017. May we continue to write our most audacious ideals on this earth.